Search engine optimization can represent either one of the easiest or greatest construction marketing challenges. If you are fortunate to be serving a niche where you don’t have sophisticated competitors, you can “win” with some simple best practices, and a surprisingly limited amount of money and time. The challenge: Create a worthy, content-rich site, become an authority on the topic, and apply some basic “best practices” such as co-ordinating your domain/content with the search terms you want to rank on — without falling for tricks or fads, or black-hat techniques (or spammy “consultants” offering to get you ranked highly, quickly.)
These approaches certainly are effective — but sometimes good things can reach the point of nuclear escalation; that is, when you have a serious, well-funded competitor(s) who are determined to out-rank and outperform you.
I’ve certainly seen these competitive challenges. For a tantalizingly brief time, this blog had the number one ranking for the words “construction marketing” and you could see it in traffic, inquiries, and even some direct business. (The Construction Marketing Ideas blog was started as a support service to our regional and national print and online publications — see Canadian Design and Construction Report (www.cadcr.com) and North Carolina Construction News (www.ncconstructionnews.com) as examples — and continues to serve that purpose.)
I won’t name the competitors here — you can find them quickly enough by using Google to search the terms “construction marketing”. The competitors are well-funded and effective organizations, who deserve their success. But I doubt I’ll be able to retake the top spot without a huge undertaking and expense in really sophisticated and labour-intensive marketing. At some point, you need to weigh your costs against your rewards and decide to allow the other guys to have the lead. In the meantime, I’ll still enjoy some wins — such as my status as a moderator on a Google help forum that results in access to some really bright people and annual trips for Google-paid meet-ups and summits.
Nevertheless, you need to take SEO seriously and decide how much in energy and resources you should allocate to the effort. This Search Engine Land article about ethical and sustainable SEO, written for SEO consultants, will provide you some guideposts for your own initiatives and research and, should you decide to contract the work out, the traits you should be seeking in the specialized consultants.
How much should you pay for your SEO? The number can be all over the map — and depends on your overall marketing approach and values. Certainly, if you have been dumping cash into things like the Yellow Pages, you may wish to reallocate the resources to SEO. Be patient and research carefully before jumping into the fray — and realize that, if you get into a competitive space, doing everything “right” may result in your being in third, not first, place.